Let’s imagine you’re on the way to your local bike shop to purchase the new road bike you’ve been eying for the past few months. You’ve studied the specs – you know this bike is a great next step for you in your cycling endeavors. It is just what you’re looking for. Price tag? $5,000.
If that were the case, would you show up at the store with $100 in your wallet?
Of course not. You’re smart enough to know that even if you can haggle the price down, you’ll never be able to get it down from $5,000 to $100.
So why do we do the same thing with our emotional bank accounts?
As female entrepreneurs, we’re juggling any number of tasks beyond running a business. Many of us are also raising a family, being a partner, caring for our aging parents, volunteering in the community, and so forth. All these experiences require emotional resources, yet we often struggle to invest in our emotional lives at the necessary rate. Instead, we’re showing up to tasks that require high emotional resources (e.g., our marriages, our businesses, our families) with a low emotional balance. Given increased work and family demands, the busyness of daily life, and the general bombardment of messages we get about everything we “should” be doing, this is no surprise.
Do any of the following sound familiar to you?
- You rush from meeting to meeting feeling underprepared and scattered
- You find yourself distracted by work when you want to be focused on your loved ones, and vice versa
- You have a hard time following through on the many commitments you have
Just as the adage of “living within your means” can be applied to our financial lives, we can think of the same thing in our emotional lives. Being present with others, having patience, managing our stress, practicing forgiveness, giving positive self-talk, showing gratitude and appreciation, and focusing our attention are all emotional skills that can grow with consistent investments.
When we struggle to make investments in our emotional lives, but continue at the same pace in our personal and professional lives, we begin to live outside our emotional means.
Fortunately, just as there are many ways to build our financial resources, there are also lots of ways we can invest in our emotional “bank account.”
First, consider what is on your agenda today that will require your emotional resources. Perhaps it is a meeting with a client, writing new content for your website, attending your child’s dance recital, or having dinner with someone you love. Take a moment to imagine what it would be like to feel emotionally prepared for this experience – to know that you’ll be able to be present, caring, attentive, flexible, and brave. Hold this image in your mind and then consider how you might make an emotional “deposit” beforehand. Here are some no-cost ideas that take less than 10 minutes:
- Give yourself a 5-minute pep talk. Stand in a confident pose in front of the mirror if you can. If you need an example, check out Jessica’s Daily Affirmations or Kid President’s Pep Talk
- Listen to something that inspires you. This might be a song, YouTube video, TED talk, or podcast.
- Nurture your physical body– take a short walk, practice a mindful breathing exercise, do a few of your favorite stretches or yoga poses, drink some water, or have nutritious snack.
- Call a good friend and ask her what she’s excited about (or stressing over) right now. Give her your full attention for 5-10 minutes – no surfing the web, typing an email, or picking up your dry cleaning.
- Write a letter of gratitude to someone who has helped you lately. Practicing gratitude is not only good for our own mental health, it makes the other person feel awesome too!
Like anything, investing in our emotional lives takes practice and works best when we act consistently. It can be hard at first to integrate these types of things into our daily lives. But, when we are able to build up a positive balance in our emotional “bank accounts”, we are better able to handle the unexpected stressors that come our way.
Try out some of the practices above and let us know how they go. It might take a while to see change – especially if you’re used to caring for everyone else before yourself! If, over time, you find you’re still struggling to build your emotional resources, there may be larger stressors in your personal life or relationships that need more attention. Consider reaching out to a counselor. Sharing your story is a powerful way to begin healing and getting on with living the incredible life that only you can.
Our guest author, Christine Kemp Rizzo, PhD, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who runs a private practice therapy clinic in Matthews along with her husband. They work with individuals, couples, and families struggling with relational and mental health difficulties. She is passionate about helping people on their path towards lives that are full of meaning, connection, and purpose. To learn more about her practice, check out her practice’s website: https://cmrcounseling.com.